Toilet training (herein referred to as "potty training") is an exciting time for parents and children, as the child takes the next step to becoming a "big" girl or boy. While parents usually start this adventure filled with the anticipation of being able to cross "diapers" off the shopping list, their toddlers can make them wonder if this will ever happen.
Successful potty training requires a positive attitude and tons of patience on the parent's part. More importantly, it requires cooperation and readiness on the part of the trainee. Attempting to train a child who is not physically or
emotionally mature will not only be unproductive, it will cause unnecessary stress for both parent and toddler.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that between 18 and 24 months, children often begin to show signs of being ready to begin training. Some children may not be ready until 30 months or older. Since children under the age of 18 months have little to no control over their bladder or bowel movements, beginning before this time is not useful.
Some of the signs that indicate a child is ready to be trained are:
Your child shows interest in using the toilet.
Your child makes a face, changes her posture or tells you when she is about to urinate or have a bowel movement.
Your child wants to be changed soon after soiling his diaper.
Your child can speak well enough to communicate when she needs to use the potty.
How to Start
Once you feel your child is ready to begin potty training, the first step is to purchase a potty chair. A potty chair is smaller than the toilet and helps the child to feel more secure.
Have your child sit on the potty during times she is most likely to urinate or have a bowel movement, such as in the morning, before and after naps or after mealtimes. Reading a book, talking or singing songs will encourage your child to sit on the chair longer. Avoid trying to force your child to sit for long periods of time or against her will.
Don't be surprised if, after sitting on the potty without result, your child stands up and begins to urinate. This is often perceived as stubbornness. The fact is, your child may not have mastered the skill of relaxing his bladder muscles. If this happens frequently, it may be a sign that he is not yet ready.
When your child begins to successfully use the potty, you may want to consider purchasing training pants for daytime use. Disposable training pants are convenient for outings, but cotton training pants will allow your child to be more aware of when they are urinating, encouraging them to use the potty instead. Plastic diaper covers will help protect your home from accidents.
Some children simultaneously learn to stay dry during the day and at night. For others, it can take several months, even a few years. Allowing your child to wear a diaper at night until she begins to consistently wake up dry will prevent feelings of shame and failure.
A new baby, changes in routine, family crisis or putting too much pressure on your child, can cause him to regress in the potty department. Avoid making your child feel bad during this time and encourage him to keep trying.
Every child's body is different. Some catch on quickly,while others take much longer to recognize the signals their body is sending them. Lavish praise on your child when she is successful and reassurance when she has an accident.
Avoid comparing your child's potty training progress to that of an another child's. Mastering the use of the toilet is not an indication of a child's intelligence. It is dependent on their physical, physiological and emotional maturity. Have patience and eventually, your child will be a "big" boy or girl.
Karen Bianchi is a freelance writer and the editor of http://www.AwesomeMomsNetwork.com She is also the mother of 4 potty-trained kids. You can contact her at kbianchi@AwesomeMomsNetwork.com